Respiration Physiology (1980) 41 - Semantic Scholar

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suggest that the origin of the blood had any effect on either P50 or 'n' (P > ... Note that in generating oxygen equilibria other than those chosen for illustration, one ...

Respiration Physiology (1980) 41. 367-380

RESPIRATORY PROPERTIES OF THE BLOOD OF CROCODYLUS POROSUS GORDON C. GR1GG and MICHAEL CAIRNCROSS Abstract. The blood of Crocodylus porosus has a high oxygen capacity (5.5 mmol 1-1 at hematocrit = 28%). The shape of the oxygen equilibrium curve of the blood is described by ‘n’= 2.7 in the physiological range of PCO2 and its oxygen affinity is described by the equation: log 10P50 =0.4163 + 0.0200 TºC+ 0.3763 log10PCO2 Thus, the blood has a low oxygen affinity which is strongly sensitive to both temperature and PCO2 There is a high buffering capacity, 37 mmol (1 pH)-1, and a large Haldane effect, 0.93 mmol CO2 (mmol Hb)-1 The fixed-acid Bohr effect seems to be much reduced in comparison to the CO2-specific Bohr effect. We discuss the possibility that low levels of red cell organic phosphate may be an adaptive strategy to desensitise P50 to changes in plasma pH. The significance of the blood respiratory properties is discussed in terms of the life style of C. porosus, particularly in relation to ectothermy and diving. Keywords: Bohr effect, Ectothermy, Buffering capacity, O2-affinity, Crocodile, O2-Hb equilibrium curve, Diving, Red cell organic phosphates. There have been few studies of the respiratory properties of the blood of crocodilians. Wilson (1939) described a high affinity for oxygen in hemoglobin from Alligator mississippiensis and Dill and Edwards (1931, 1935) determined whole blood oxygen equilibria. Bohr effect, and effect of temperature on P50 in A. mississippiensis and Crocodylus acutus. Information about respiratory and other properties of reptilian blood has been reviewed by Dessauer (1970), Wood and Lenfant (1976) and Howell and Rahn (1976). The only data reported previously on respiratory properties of whole blood from Crocodylus porosus has been a single Value for P50 (Bauer and Jelkman, 1977). Two features of the life style of C. porosus, ectothermy and diving, suggest particular questions about its blood respiratory properties. The body temperature of C. porosus and other ectotherms is subject to daily and seasonal fluctuations, and if oxygen affinity is strongly temperature-dependent, this would have an impact on gas transport. Most reptiles employ behavioural and physiological strategies to minimise the response of body temperature to changes in ambient temperature (Templeton. 1970). Crocodilians are known to show behavioural thermoregulatory responses (Smith. 1975) and the presence of typical reptilian physiological mechanisms for controlling rates of heat loss and gain has been demonstrated in alligators (Smith, 1976) and C. johnstoni (Grigg and Alchin, 1976). Despite behavioural and physiological mechanisms, body temperature of crocodilians is certain to vary considerably, particularly in smaller animals (Grigg et al., 1979) and because of their amphibious habits. Any sensitivity of the oxygen equilibrium curve to changes in temperature could exert a significant effect on oxygen transport. Diving is a strategy of great importance to crocodiles for predation and escape. In reptiles and other vertebrates, a large Bohr effect, high O2 capacity, high O2 affinity and a large buffering capacity have been regarded as a suite of adaptations to diving (Andersen, 1961, 1966). Within the mammals there are many contradictions to these apparent correlations with diving habit, and the question of their applicability to reptiles requires more information. Bennett and Dawson (1976) have reviewed information about the interplay between aerobic and anaerobic metabolism in reptiles. Assessment of the relative contributions of each during a dive depends partly upon information about the size of the useable oxygen store. the course of changes in levels of oxygen in the blood and lungs, and the respiratory and buffer properties of the blood. Accordingly the present study was undertaken as a background for studies on diving physiology of C. porosus. Materials and methods Animals and blood sampling. All analyses were performed on blood samples from two Crocodylus porosus brought to Sydney from Arnhem Land, northern Australia, and housed at Taronga Zoo. The animals were 'pegleg' (2.0 m total length, 15.6 kg, female) and 'Captain Goodvibes' (2.1 m, 18.2 kg, male). Blood samples of 20 nil were taken from the caudal sinus into tubes containing EDTA to prevent clotting.

Access to the sinus was gained with a large bore (14-17G) needle inserted medially from below the tail. Best collection was obtained well posteriorly about two-thirds of the distance between vent and tail-tip, where the ventral projections from the hemal arches are shorter. Samples were taken between August 3 and November 8, 1976, during which time both animals remained healthy, feeding well on thawed fish. Despite the frequent handling and removal of blood samples, hematocrit throughout the study remained at 26-29% in both animals, slightly above the mean hematocrit (24.8%) of 96 C. porosus sampled in the field (Grigg, Unpublished data). Not surprisingly, both animals became more and more difficult to handle as the study progressed. Oxygen and carbon dioxide equilibrium curves. O2 and CO2 equilibrium curves were determined by a mixing technique similar to that described by Haab, Piiper and Rahn (1960). Tonometry was carried out in a pair of 50-ml round-bottomed flasks rotating at 45º to the horizontal in a water bath in which temperature could be controlled closely. Fully oxygenated and fully deoxygenated paired aliquots of blood at three separate levels of carbon dioxide could be prepared by equilibration in the tonometers to pairs of humidified gas mixtures, as follows: For oxygenation

For deoxygenation

0.5% CO2 in air 2.0% CO2 in air 8.0% CO2 in air

0.5% CO2 in N2 2.0% CO2 in N2 8.0% CO2 in N2

Approximate PCO2 (Torr) (dependent on T °C PB) 3.5 16 61

Oxygen equilibrium curves were set up by measuring the oxygen partial pressure in 0%, 20%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 80%, and 100%, mixtures of deoxygenated and oxygenated blood. The mixtures were made in a 1 ml tuberculin syringe fitted externally with a brass spacer bar to ensure accurate proportions in the mixture. A small pellet of mercury in the dead space allowed easy mixing prior to measurement. Oxygen partial pressures were measured using Radiometer equipment (PHM71), the oxygen electrode being temperature stabilised at blood equilibration temperature. A Radiometer Blood Micro-pH electrode was used for determination of pH in the oxygenated and deoxygenated aliquots. The oxygen capacity of oxygenated samples was measured using the combined O2 and CO2 technique of Peters and van Slyke. In early experiments. the accuracy of establishing mixtures was confirmed by measurements of O2 content. Full deoxygenation of the 0% sample was confirmed in every case, using the same technique. To minimize errors due to the oxygen consumption of red cells, each sample for any mixture was withdrawn separately while the tonometers were stopped briefly. Equilibration was then continued while measurements of PO2 (and oxygen content) were made. From each of the two crocodiles, oxygen equilibria were determined at three levels of PCO2 and at 10º 20° and 30ºC, a total of eighteen curves. Additionally, four oxygen equilibrium curves were repeated under the same conditions but on different days and their .similarity to the previous determination in each case suggested confidence in the methodology (Table 1). Carbon dioxide equilibrium curves at each temperature were plotted according to van Slyke determinations of CO2 content in oxygenated and deoxygenated blood samples equilibrated at 0.5%, 2% and 8% CO2 which enabled assessment of the Haldane effect. Analyses Two-factor and three-factor analysis of variance. Because the experiments were designed to test the effect of temperature and carbon dioxide on blood respiratory properties, and because blood samples came from either one of two sources, there were three experimental treatments associated with any measurement. These were temperature, PCO2 and the animal from which the blood had been taken. The design therefore lent itself to application of three-factor analysis of variance in order to determine the dependence of any measured parameter on these treatments or upon interaction between them (table 1). Oxygen equilibrium curves. Data were transformed according to the Hill equation and 'n' and P50 determined by linear regression techniques, PO2 being the dependent variable (table 1). High values of the correlation coefficients, r2 were taken to indicate good tit of the data to the Hill equation. For each Curve, the parameters 'n' (expressing shape) and P50 (oxygen affinity) represent a complete description of the transformed curve between l0% and 90% saturation. Accordingly, each of these parameters was analysed by 3-factor and then 2-factor Analysis of Variance to establish its dependence or independence upon PCO2, T ºC and the individual from which the blood sample was drawn. Standard multiple regression techniques were then used in order to produce a generalised equation predicting P50 given measurement temperature and PCO2. The regression equation enabled a full graphic description of the curves.

Buffering capacity of whole blood. Measured values of total CO2 content, corrected for dissolved CO2 using x values (whole blood) from Severinghaus et al. 1956 were plotted against measured pH. The contribution to CO2 content from carbamino compounds was ignored. The slope of the resultant regression is the buffer capacity, β = ΔHCO3-/ ΔpH. mmol (1 blood - pH unit)-1, a unit which, as Dejours (1975) has noted, is uncommonly called the slyke. Results ( 1) Oxygen carrying capacity. During the study, hematocrits of each individual remained essentially stable: Goodvibes, 27.4% (SE = 0.50) and Pegleg, 28.4% (SE = 0.18). There were no significant differences between individuals in either hematocrit or O2 capacity. Pooling the data, hematocrit = 27.9% (SE = 0.30), and O2 capacity = 5.52 mmol 1-1 (SE = 0.15 or 12.4 vol%. Based on hematocrit and hemoglobin determinations on 82 wild caught C. porosus (Grigg and Gruca, unpublished observations) a hematocrit of 27.9% is equivalent to a hemoglobin concentration of 8.7g%. No cases of methemoglobinemia were found among 110 crocs sampled. Assuming that each gram of Hb binds with 1.34 ml O2 then hemoglobin concentration of 8.7 g% predicts O2 capacity = 5.20 mmol - l -1 Allowing 0.12 mmol 1-1 for dissolved oxygen, this compares favourably with the mean value of 5.52 mmol 1-1 determined by direct measurement. (2) Oxygen equilibrium curves. These are described by the values of n and P 50 , tabulated for each set of CO 2 , and temperature circumstances in table 1. By Analysis of Variance there was no evidence to suggest that the origin of the blood had any effect on either P 50 or ‘n’ (P > 0.05), so data from both animals were pooled and a two-factor Analysis of Variance carried out. As expected. P50 depends strongly upon both T ˚C and P 50 (P < 0.001) and there is a significant interaction between them which is, however, eliminated by logarithmic transformation of P 50 (figs. 2, 3). Values of 'n' also show significant correlation with temperature and PCO 2 if all levels of each are included (P < 0.005 in each case). Inspection of table 1 suggests that the very high values of n at 10 °C and 0.5% CO 2 (4 Torr) in blood from each animal may be contributing strongly to this result. Indeed, 10 °C and 0.5% CO 2 have little or no physiological realism for C. porosus and if the 0.5% CO 2 column is dropped from this analysis the CO 2 effect is removed and there is only a very slight temperature effect. If the 10 °C row is left out also, all significant relationships disappear. At normal physiological levels therefore, x value of n = 2.7 is representative. Graphic analysis of the dependence of 'n' on temperature and P CO2 outside the physiological range shows the correlation between n and temperature at low levels of PCO2 (fig. 1) which is of theoretical interest. Note also the very slight but significant dependence of n on temperature in the physiological range of P 50 (P < 0.05). TABLE 1. Values of P 50, n (Hill coefficient), r 2 and pH, the correlation coefficient in the Hill plot (See text) at three temperatures and three P CO2 levels. The values are set out for three-factor analysis of variance.

'Goodvibes' male 18.2k g) PCO2 (Torr ) 4





n r2 pH P5 n

4.75 0.89 7.85 11.4 3.71


r2 pH P5


14.0 n 2.10 r 2 0.99 pH 7.79

'Pegleg' female 15.6 kg) PCO2 (Torr) 61







2.26 0.97 7.35 20.6 20.9 2.58 2.67

2.38 0.99 7.01 41.4 2.42

4.99 0.95 7.81 11.6 3.82

2.35 0.99 7.21 18.0 18.5 2.84 3.02

2.66 0- 99 7.10 43.1 2.58


0.99 0.99







7.41 7.47






27.3 2.56 0.99 7.50

49.2 2.92 0.99 7.21

15.3 2.73 0.99 7.91

14.5 2.06 0.98 7.47



27.7 2.59 0.99 7 .34

27.0 2.69 0.99 7 .3 8

49.4 2.82 0.99 7.19

Fig. l. The effect of temperature on the Hill coefficient. 'n', at high and low partial pressures of carbon dioxide (whole blood).

In order to determine predictive relationships, the dependence of P50 upon T ˚C and PCO2 was analysed by multiple regression analysis in which each value of P50 (determined by linear regression of Hill's equation) was associated with its temperature and PCO2 of equilibration. Of the total variability, 91% is described by the equation: log10 P50 = 0.4163 + 0.02 T °C + 0.3763 log10 PCO2


The relationships are represented graphically in figs. 2 and 3, along with representative oxygen equilibria generated by Hill's equation using P50 values generated from the multiple regression equation and n = 2.7. Note that in generating oxygen equilibria other than those chosen for illustration, one must remember to choose an appropriate value of 'n' if PCO2 = 3.5 (fig. 1). Effect of temperature on oxygen affinity The slope of the line Δlog10 P50/ΔT is an expression of the effect of temperature on P50; for C. porosus Δlog P50/ΔT = 0.0200. Effect of P CO2 and pH on oxygen affinity. Whereas the equation given above explained 91% of the variability of log10 P50 including pH as a variable instead of log10 PCO2 led to the following equation: log10 P50 = 5.38 + 0.02 T°C - 0.616 pH (2) This equation describes significantly less variability (84%) (P < 0.001), showing that log PCO2 predicts P50 better than does pH. Given the degree of autocorrelation between these two variables, this implies very strongly that pH has only a small direct effect on P50. We attempted to separate the effects of pH and P50, by partial regression, including both variables, and deriving the equation: log10 P50-2.69 + 0.02 T ˚C + 0.59 log10 PCO2 + 0.39 pH (3)

Fig. 2. The effect of temperature on oxygen affinity and the oxygen equilibrium curve of C. porosus whole blood, plotted from equation l.

The total variability explained by this equation is 93% not significantly more than equation 1 (91%). This would be expected if the autocorrelation between pH and P 50 were complete. However, equation 3 explains significantly more variability than equation 2, confirming that Δlog 10 P 50 /Δlog 10 P CO2 and Δlog 10 P 50 /ΔpH are not equivalent. The crucial experiments to evaluate these separate effects of pH and PCO2 were not performed and no values for fixed-acid Bohr effect and specific CO 2 effect can be given. Since P 50 is predicted better by P CO2 than by pH, it seems likely that in C. porosus the specific CO 2 effect predominates (see Discussion).

Fig. 3. The effect of PCO2 on oxygen affinity and the oxygen equilibrium curve of C. porosus whole blood, plotted from equation 1.

(3) CO 2 transport and blood buffering. Carbon dioxide equilibrium curves are seen in fig. 4. Each point was derived from equilibration of a different blood sample so one might expect considerable variability. By Analysis of Variance it was demonstrated that PCO2 and the state of oxygenation both exert a significant influence on CO2 content, that the source of the blood was not a significant factor, and that equilibration temperature had no effect. This last differs from expectation and the lack of temperature effect may be obscured within the background noise of variability alluded to above. The Haldane effect was calculated at P50 = 40 Torr (for comparison with human and other data) by interpolation and found to be approximately 5 mmol CO2 1-1 or 0.93 mmol CO2 (mmol Hb)-1, very high compared with a human value of about 0.35. At 30 °C and PCO2 = 40 Torr, the mean ΔpH between oxygenated and deoxygenated whole blood was 0.026. The relationship between pH and blood bicarbonate is shown in fig. 5 and suggests a buffering capacity (ΔHCO3- /ΔpH) of 37 mmol (1 - pH)-1. The large Haldane effect is seen.

Fig. 4. Carbon dioxide equilibrium curves of whole blood from C. porosus, showing the large Haldane effect. Each point is the mean of six determinations and the vertical bar represents one standard error about the mean. Analysis of variance showed no significant effect of temperature, so data were pooled.

Fig. 5. Blood buffering capacity of whole blood from C. porosus. By analysis of covariance the intercepts of the regression lines are significantly different (P < 0.001) but not the slopes.

Discussion Hematocrit and O2 capacity. Among reptiles, C. porosus has a high blood O2 capacity, 5.5 mmol 1-1 at a hematocrit of 27.9%. Values of hematocrit in 96 C. porosus sampled in the Liverpool and Tomkinson Rivers, northern Australia, averaged 24.8% (range 19.1-31.3, SE = 0.28, Grigg, unpublished observations).

This suggests an average O2 capacity of 4.9 mmol - 1-1 in the wild, in the upper part of the range for reptiles (3.44-5.62 mmol 1-1) reported by Dawson and Poulson (1962). That high BOC contributes to survival in diving reptiles has been questioned by Wood and Lenfant (1976), referring to the frequent occurrence of high levels of methemoglobin among reptilia. However, no cases of methemoglobinemia were found in wild-caught C. porosus and this species has sufficiently high levels of methemoglobin reductase (NADH-MR) (4.43 I.U., SE = 0.14, n = 41) to suggest rapid reversal of methemoglobin as it is formed (Grigg and Gruca, in preparation). It seems likely that high BOC in C. porosus can be regarded as an adaptation to diving increasing the oxygen store. Interestingly, although O2 capacity is high, hematocrit values are lower than those for. some reptiles whose BOC is lower than that of C. porosus. Varanus gouldi, a Varanid well known for its high rates of aerobic metabolism, has a hematocrit of 29% (SD = 2.4) and BOC of 3.57 mmol 1-1 (Bennett,1973). Sauromalus obesus, with a hematocrit of 33% (SD= 1.3) has an O2 capacity of 4.33 mmol - 1-1 (Bennett, 1973). Oxygen affinity. The oxygen affinity of the blood of C. porosus is quite low. At 37 °C, to enable comparison with data presented in fig. 24 of Wood and Lenfant (1976), P50 = 49 Torr (PCO2 = 16 Torr, pH = 7.52). High values of P50 are, however, typical of reptiles in general and C. porosus falls neatly on the extrapolated P50/weight relationship given by Wood and Lenfant (1976, p. 260). This contrasts with the much higher O2 affinity reported by Anderson (1961) for Alligator mississippiensis. Comparable results for the other crocodilian that has been studied, C. acutus (Dill and Edwards, 1931), are difficult to calculate but their '12 foot' animal 'A' would likely have weighed 150-200 kg if there is a similar lengthweight relationship as in C. porosus. If P50 is similarly temperature sensitive in both species, at 37 °C a P50 of about 45 Torr may be calculated from their data. This falls within the limits predicted by the P50/weight relationship. There has been considerable discussion about adaptive correlation of blood oxygen affinity with environment and life style (e.g. Johansen and Lenfant, 1972) and in fishes such correlations are well marked (Grigg, 1974). Among reptiles, however, the existence of an apparently close relationship between P50 and weight (in lizards and crocodiles at least) shows little evidence for adaptive modification of P50 to suit environment or habits. Modification of P50 has been suggested as an adaptation to diving in reptiles (Andersen, 1961) yet both diving and non-diving species fit the P50 weight relationship equally well. Effects of organic phosphates, CO2 and pH on oxygen affinity. Grigg and Gruca ( 1979) have reported low values for red cell ATP (including other nucleoside triphosphates) and 2,3 DPG in C. porosus, C. johnstoni and C. novaeguinea, confirming earlier reports of low red cell phosphates in crocodilians (Rapoport and Guest, 1941; Bartlett, 1978). Bauer and Jelkman (1977) studied hemolysates from C. porosus and found oxygen affinity to be insensitive to inorganic phosphate and a wide range of organic phosphates. Their values of P50 for hemolysates, are predicted accurately by our equation derived for whole blood, as discussed elsewhere (Grigg and Gruca, 1979). Accordingly, it is unlikely that organic phosphates are involved in the regulation of whole-blood oxygen affinity in C. porosus. Grigg and Gruca (1979) have proposed that low red cell organic phosphates may represent an adaptive strategy to reduce the fixed-acid Bohr effect in animals subject to large changes in plasma pH. Such changes may be associated with a prolonged dive or other behavioural event which depends upon anaerobic glycolysis. In crocodilians, plasma pH is known to fall considerably following a dive (Andersen, 1961) or a burst of activity or disturbance (Coulson and Hernandez, 1964). At such times, a strong fixedacid Bohr effect could inhibit O2 loading at the respiratory surface, and a lowered sensitivity of P50 to pH could be regarded as advantageous to crocodilians. This line of reasoning is given extra weight by our finding that the fixed-acid Bohr effect is reduced in C. porosus in comparison to the CO2 Bohr effect. Further, data presented in a graph by Bauer and Jelkman (1977) showed the O2 affinity of hemolysate (at PCO2 = 40 Torr) to be independent of pH over the physiological range. CO2 transport and blood buffering. The carbon dioxide equilibrium curves (fig. 5) suggest a relatively low plasma bicarbonate in C. porosus, 16 mmol 1-1 at PCO2 = 30 Torr. This compares favourably with 17 mmol 1-1 (SE = 0.58) in samples of venous plasma drawn from 99 wild-caught specimens (G.C.G. unpublished observations). However, both these values are probably too low because of lactate accumulation due to disturbance of the animals at sampling (see later). Lenfant et al. (1970) found 32 mmol 1-1 HCO3HCO(PCO2 = 30 Torr) in Chelys fimbriata. In Varanus niloticus, Wood and Johansen (1974) recorded a plasma HCO3- of 30 mmol 1-1 (PCO2 = 25 Torr). In alligators, Coulson and Hernandez (1964) reported 19.8 mmol 1-1 plasma bicarbonate at unspecified PCO2, similar to C. porosus. The buffering capacity of C. porosus is high (fig. 5), which suggests considerable ability to cope with a large build-up of blood lactate following a dive or a burst of activity. Comparison with values for other

reptiles suggests a degree of acidosis in our experiments. Normal values of pH at these temperatures would be 7.6-7.7 according to Howell and Rahn (1976). Blood lactate analysis of five samples of blood in our study averaged 9.31 mmol 1-1 (SE = 0.82), confirming the acidosis. This value can be compared with an average of 4.41 mmol - 1-1 (SE = 0.47) obtained from analysis of venous plasma from 42 wild-caught C. porosus (Grigg unpublished observations). Coulson and Hernandez (1964) have discussed the increase in blood lactate following handling of alligators. They report normal values ranging from 'trace' to 1.0 mmol 1 -1 (average 0.7), in alligators kept undisturbed and in a soundproof box prior to sampling. Effects of temperature. Bennett (1973) found lowered O2 capacity at high temperatures in both Sauromalus hispidus and Varanus gouldii, particularly at lowered pH. No effect of temperature or PCO2 on O2 capacity was found in C. porosus over the ranges studied. Oxygen affinity in C. porosus is, however, strongly temperature-dependent, Δlog P50/dT = 0.0200. It is interesting to speculate on what, if any, adaptive significance can be attached to the steep dependence of P50 upon temperature. Crocodilians in captivity are known from telemetric studies to undergo substantial daily changes in body temperature (Smith, 1975). Water temperatures in the wild in Arnhem Land vary seasonally by at least 10 °C, while air temperature frequently shows a 15 °C range during a single day. Grigg et al. (1979) provide information about thermal time constants for reptiles heating and cooling in water and air, from which it is clear that crocs less than 100-150 kg are unlikely to maintain any substantial overnight difference between body temperature and water temperature. It seems certain that body temperature of C. porosus less than 100 kg varies considerably both daily and seasonally. One might suspect, therefore, that C. porosus would show relative independence of P50 on temperature. Indeed, it would seem reasonable to propose that lowered sensitivity of P50 to temperature changes would be common among reptiles because of the large fluctuations in TB which accompany daily basking and retreat. However, reptiles commonly have a steep effect of T on P50 (Pough, 1969; Greenwald, 1971, Wood and Lenfant, 1976). One exception is Varanus niloticus where low temperature sensitivity was found and interpreted as an adaptation to minimise the increase in oxygen affinity which would otherwise occur in lizards going from sun basking to submergence in water (Wood and Johansen, 1974). C. porosus is another reptile which goes from basking to submergence in water and the finding of strong dependence of P50 upon T is in sharp contrast to the situation in V. niloticus. Before the adaptive significance of high or low sensitivity of P50 to T can be explained for reptiles, more information is needed about a wider variety of reptiles, but one possible explanation of the strong sensitivity in C. porosus can be proposed. Grigg (1978) reported a strong dependence of metabolic rate on temperature (Q10=2.68, T = 20-30 °C) in juvenile C. porosus. Thus both metabolic rate and P50 are strongly T-dependent in this species. Seasonal changes in temperature are much less in the entirely tropical range of C. porosus than one finds in temperate habitats, yet the habitat of C. porosus is divided sharply into wet (summer), dry (winter) seasons. This seasonality of rainfall has a marked effect on crocodile activity, for C. porosus breeds in 'the wet'. The marked physiological sensitivity to temperature may allow C. porosus to make the most of what temperature fall there is in the cool (and dry) season as a period of lesser activity, with concomitantly reduced overall energy metabolism. Interestingly, high values of metabolic Q10 particularly at temperatures below the activity range, are not uncommon among reptiles (see review by Bennett and Dawson, 1976). In many species Q10 is low over the temperature range at which they are active, yet higher at lower temperatures. Hoskins and Aleksiuk (1973) studied liver, skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle from Garter Snakes (Thamnophus sirtalis), above 20˚C, Q10 = 2.4, but from 4-20 ˚C. Q10~ 5.8. As Bennett and Dawson (1976) have said ‘a high thermal dependence of metabolism at temperatures below the range normally associated with activity might well produce considerable conservation of energy for reptiles during inactivity in cool surroundings’. Acknowledgements Financial support from the Australian Research Grants Committee is acknowledged gratefully, as is contributory support from the Science Foundation for Physics within the University of Sydney through its Director, Professor Harry Messel. Messrs. U. E. Friese and K. Joiner helped in maintenance of the animals at Taronga Zoo. G. J. Caughley gave statistical advice and help. We are very grateful to Gillian Courtice, Laurie Taplin and Geoff Dobson who read the manuscript and made useful suggestions. Artwork was done by June Jeffery and Tess Manalang typed the manuscript.

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